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A model of commodity money, with applications to Gresham's Law and the debasement puzzle

  • Francois R. Velde
  • Warren E. Weber
  • Randall Wright

We develop a model of commodity money and use it to analyze the following two questions motivated by issues in monetary history: What are the conditions under which Gresham's Law holds? And, what are the mechanics of a debasement (lowering the metallic content of coins)? The model contains light and heavy coins, imperfect information, and prices determined via bilateral bargaining. There are equilibria with neither, both, or only one type of coin in circulation. When both circulate, coins may trade by weight or by tale. We discuss the extent to which Gresham's Law holds in the various cases. Following a debasement, the quantity of reminting depends on the incentives oÃered by the sovereign. Equilibria exist with positive seigniorage and a mixture of old and new coins in circulation.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues with number WP-97-12.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhma:wp-97-12
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  1. Edward J. Green & Ruilin Zhou, . ""A Rudimentary Model of Search with Divisible Money and Prices''," CARESS Working Papres 95-17, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
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  3. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Randall Wright, 1989. "A contribution to the pure theory of money," Staff Report 123, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  9. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  10. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Maskin, Eric S, 1996. "A Walrasian Theory of Money and Barter," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 955-1005, November.
  11. Arthur J. Rolnick & Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 1997. "The debasement puzzle: an essay on medieval monetary history," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 8-20.
  12. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1989. "Gresham's Law in a Lemons Market for Assets," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 22(3), pages 686-97, August.
  13. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1993. "A Search-Theoretic Approach to Monetary Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 63-77, March.
  14. Ostroy, Joseph M. & Starr, Ross M., 1990. "The transactions role of money," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-62 Elsevier.
  15. Williamson, S. & Wright, R., 1991. "Barter and Monetary Exchange Under Private Information," University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations Working Papers 9107, University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations.
  16. Greenfield, Robin L & Rockoff, Hugh, 1995. "Gresham's Law in Nineteenth-Century America," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1086-98, November.
  17. Miguel Molico, 2006. "The Distribution Of Money And Prices In Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 701-722, 08.
  18. Rolnick, Arthur J & Weber, Warren E, 1986. "Gresham's Law or Gresham's Fallacy?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 185-99, February.
  19. Trejos, Alberto & Wright, Randall, 1995. "Search, Bargaining, Money, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 118-41, February.
  20. Camera, Gabriele & Corbae, Dean, 1999. "Money and Price Dispersion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 985-1008, November.
  21. Williamson, Stephen D., 1992. "Laissez-faire banking and circulating media of exchange," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 134-167, June.
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  23. Edward J. Green & Warren E. Weber, 1996. "Will the new $100 bill decrease counterfeiting?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-10.
  24. Arthur J. Rolnick & Warren E. Weber, 1986. "Gresham's law or Gresham's fallacy?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 17-24.
  25. Arthur J. Rolnick & François R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 1995. "The debasement puzzle: an essay on medieval monetary policy," Working Papers 536, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  26. Alberto Trejos, 1997. "Incentives to produce quality and the liquidity of money (*)," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 355-365.
  27. Bruce D. Smith & Thomas J. Sargent, 1997. "Coinage, debasements, and Gresham's laws," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 197-226.
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